What Causes Anxiety Attacks in Dogs

By Tess Thompson

Dogs cannot speak our language, and we can never be sure whether their barking is a warning, a complaint or an expression of some discomfort. But there is one thing that we do know, and that is that the barking is supposed to mean something.

A dog may bark for various reasons. In many cases, the barking is due to a previous situation or experience that he may have had. Research has unequivocally established that the dog’s brain does respond to stimuli, and this was proven long time ago with Pavlov’s experiment.

Experiments reveal that there is imagery in the dog’s brain that induces specific dog behaviors. These behaviors could seem normal or abnormal to us, but they do have a meaning. Dogs have the capacity to recall images of the owner, earlier smells and sounds and past experiences, and these cause them to behave in a certain manner.

Imagine a situation where you return home at the same time every day and indulge in joyous playing with your puppy. The image of the good time that the young dog experiences gets ingrained in the dog’s brain. The problem arises on the day you are late from work. The young dog recalls the images and anticipates the fun. He starts getting ready for play and then as your expected time of arrival passes, he starts fretting, pacing and barking. Relieving stress in pets becomes essential in such conditions so that the dog can cope with such unexpected situations.

In a similar manner, certain images get associated with the act of leaving home. We may have a ritual of doing certain things like putting on our shoes, picking up the keys of the car and wearing a jacket that get recorded as images that get associated with leaving. This obviously is not desirable from the pet’s point of view. Many dogs get excessively possessive and follow the owner from room to room or try to obstruct the passage to the main door. If you do find your way out and actually leave, you may find that your house is in shambles when you return. Objects associated with leaving may suddenly go missing. Shoes may have been chewed upon. A condition like this is called separation anxiety in dogs and is more evident among dogs that are excessively pampered by their owners.

A lot of research has been done on the issue of whether dogs can think or not. After having studied dog behavior, one can easily conclude that the dog’s brain definitely retains experiences. The manner in which they are stored and recollected, however, is uncertain.



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